Women's Health

August 17, 2022

Lindley named to direct new multidisciplinary Women’s Heart Center

Kathryn Lindley, MD, has joined the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute as director of the new Women’s Heart Center.

Kathryn Lindley, MD

Kathryn Lindley, MD, has joined the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute (VHVI) as director of the new Women’s Heart Center. The Center will provide multidisciplinary care for women’s cardiovascular health across the lifespan, from adolescent through geriatric populations.

Lindley, who holds the Samuel S. Riven, MD, Directorship in Cardiology, comes to Vanderbilt from Washington University in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where she conceptualized and founded its Center for Women’s Heart Disease.

“I’m looking forward to leveraging those experiences and translating some of those efforts to Vanderbilt, building upon the already-established expertise here, as well as expanding our reach in collaboration with the amazing leadership and faculty that I’ll be working with here,” she said.

Women require sex-and-gender-specific cardiovascular care throughout their lives, Lindley said, and the center will gather resources throughout Vanderbilt to support that.

In addition to Cardiology, the center will facilitate strong collaborations among other specialties, including Obstetrics and Gynecology, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Psychiatry and Nutrition.

“Our goals are to provide patient-centered care that can facilitate and improve evidence-based, sex-specific care for women in the region. In order to do so, we’re excited to partner with patients’ existing primary care physicians and other subspecialty providers to develop a team-based approach to optimize an individualized care plan for each patient,” she said.

The center’s work begins with treating female patients in adolescence, when a growing number of present with congenital heart defects or early acquired cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes. The care continues through their reproductive years, providing safe and effective methods of contraception, prenatal care and pregnancy and postpartum care. Pregnancy is a critical time to identify women who are at a particularly higher risk for developing cardiovascular complications, she said.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of maternal death,” she said. “It’s a time that we really need to provide women with particular, multidisciplinary-focused care, both for preventing postpartum complications but also to help identify women who are at increased risk over the long term for premature cardiovascular disease to help set them on a healthy path forward.”

Lindley, a native of rural Southern Illinois, said her father is a doctor and she became interested in medicine at an early age. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her MD from Emory University School of Medicine.

She said she had an early interest in women’s health and struggled with whether to go into OB/GYN or internal medicine. She decided on the latter, specializing in cardiology, becoming resident and then chief resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. But she developed her own training pathway in cardio-obstetrics during her subsequent fellowship at Barnes-Jewish.

Starting as a fellow at Washington University in St. Louis and continuing for the last eight years, Lindley has been treating pregnant women with cardiovascular disease. Most recently, she held academic appointments at Washington University in St. Louis as associate professor of Medicine in the Cardiovascular Division and a secondary appointment as associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She also specializes in treating patients with adult congenital heart disease.

“Dr. Lindley’s passion for the care of women throughout their lives and development of this Center, unique to Nashville and the region, will greatly benefit our patients’ cardiovascular health,” said Jane Freedman, MD, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and the physician-in-chief of VHVI.

Lindley’s research interests are hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and how and why those are linked with increased cardiovascular events in women in both the short and the long term. Her clinical interests include peripartum cardiomyopathy, cardiovascular disease prevention, hypertension and cardiac imaging.

Lindley is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and serves as chair of the ACC’s Cardiovascular Disease in Women Committee. She is also a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Dr. Lindley is a nationally-recognized leader in cardiovascular disease and women’s health,” said Daniel Muñoz, MD, MPA, executive medical director of the Patient Care Center (PCC) at VHVI.

“She is exactly the right person to inaugurally lead the Women’s Heart Center and to help further distinguish VUMC as a destination center for patients with complex cardiovascular disease.”